Critical Pedagogy and getting involved in class discussions

“There is more than one way to interpret something”, can be described as the root of the definition for critical pedagogy. Critical pedagogy can be thought of as a way to challenge individual thinking and perceptions on a topic. A way to break away from not questioning what is being instructed or discussed. Is an invitation to question, form your own opinions, and speak up. Personal and insightful opinions can be made when the topic of discussion is relatable, therefore, life experiences can be used to further understand, proof or disproof if the evidence that is being provided is sufficient to support the idea that is being presented.

The implementation of critical pedagogy in a classroom allows increase the active involvement of students in a class by inviting them to be part of the conversation. No longer the discussion is unilateral, but bilateral, causing and exchange of ideas to take place. This exchange is inviting and challenging, promoting further inquiry and discussion. Additionally, having a welcoming, and respectful environment allows to bring and incorporate into the discussion other topics that may not be traditionally discussed (e.g., race, inequity, privilege, identity, and more) and incorporate them in the conversation and address the role they may play in the topic of discussion.

Student Assessment

How do we assess student progress in a course?  I think this is a question that probably any academic has asked themselves, but also students.  As a student myself, I have questioned the objectives of an assignment and what am I supposed to get out of it. I think  this sort of questioning happens when objectives or expectations are not clear. Additionally, in many cases assignments are given  as a way to meet a requirement and be able to give students a grade. The traditional way for “student assessment”  typically consists of exams, quizzes, presentations, or projects (group or individual). Some of these may sound more recurrent than others, but in the end they can be somewhat limiting when it comes to incorporating students’ interests and the different ways in which they can feel ownership over their work and incorporate an aspect of themselves in it.

When students feel ownership over the work they do, this increases their engagement and interest which are very important things to have present in a classroom. I think providing students with the opportunity to incorporate parts of who they are in their class assignment may promote a type of learning experience that becomes memorable. However, I do recognize that having a variety of options for students to decide the type of work they want to do for their required assignment may become challenging and demanding for the teacher because there is a lot of different ways in which students may decide to do their work. This can also be more challenging when class sizes are bigger, which may required a more standardized way to evaluate students. Perhaps, with lots of planning and evaluation of  how we assess students we can design courses that are more student focused and allows them to excel and engage in a classroom environment where they are invited to bring their ideas to the table and still meet the requirements of a course but are also able to identify the different ways they are more likely to learn about something.